Timbers turn back Edmonton with third straight win

EDMONTON, Alberta - The Portland Timbers won their sixth game in seven attempts on goals from Byron Alvarez, Alan Gordon, and Fadi Afash, continuing their march towards the postseason with a 4-1 victory over Edmonton FC Saturday afternoon at Coronation Park.

The first-place Timbers (15-7-0, 45pts) will become the first A-League side to secure a playoff berth with a win tomorrow afternoon at Calgary.

Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders ran his scoreless streak to more than 363 minutes before allowing a goal in the 83rd minute. The streak was the longest for a Timbers ‘keeper in four A-League seasons.

Edmonton (3-13-6, 15pts) has been outscored 16-2 in four losses to Portland on the year.

Gordon got things rolling in the 16th minute, dribbling through several defenders and cracking a left-footed shot past Edmonton goalkeeper Nick Stankov for the 1-0 lead.

The strike was Gordon’s league-leading 17th of the season.

Alvarez upped the ante when he beat the ‘keeper and dialed in a wide-angled shot in the 45th minute to give the Timbers a 2-0 advantage at halftime.

Alvarez tacked on another goal in the 60th minute when he took a feed from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar and got himself airborne for a flying header that made it 3-0.

The goal tied him for second among A-League goal-scorers with 13.

Nikola Vignjevic tallied the lone Edmonton goal of the afternoon on a free kick from 18 yards out in the 83rd, briefly trimming the lead.

Afash struck back in the 85th, icing his first goal since returning to the Timbers last month. Alex Bengard collected the assist on the play, crossing to Afash, who headed the ball into the back of the net from the far post.

The Timbers will try to make it a two-game road sweep tomorrow at Calgary, taking on the Mustangs at 1 p.m. (Pacific).

SCORING SUMMARY: Gordon, 16’ (UA); Alvarez, 45’ (UA); Alvarez, 60’ (Alcaraz-Cuellar); Vignjevic, 83’ (UA); Afash, 85’ (Bengard).

PENALTY SUMMARY: EDM Munoz, YC (42’), Sibiya, YC (81’).

LINEUPS: PORTLAND (15-7-0) J. Saunders GK, Henning D, Wilkinson D, Thompson D, Miranda M, Benedetti M, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Bengard M, Sagare M (Cronkrite), Alvarez F (Afash), Gordon F (Antoniuk); EDMONTON (3-13-6) Stankov GK, Kassaye D, Devlin D (Drummond), Hart D, Chin M, Munoz M (Rago), Fraser M, Vignjevic M, Dhaliwal M, Sibiya F, Akok F (Tachie).